Swiss government sanctions u-turn
Neutral Switzerland followed the European Union (EU) on Monday in sanctioning Russia and freezing Russian assets. It follows growing criticism of the Swiss government from home and abroad, including a large demonstration in Bern.
In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, numerous Western countries imposed financial and economic sanctions against Russia. But the Swiss government only went part of the way, adding that it would not let Switzerland be used as a platform to circumvent EU sanctions.
Switzerland was walking a tightrope between showing solidarity with the West and maintaining its traditional neutrality. But newspapers at home and abroad were generally critical of the government’s decision to leave Russian bank accounts unfrozen and to not impose its own sanctions. Pressure on Switzerland to impose similarly strong punitive measures recently increased, especially since the Alpine country is valued by Russian oligarchs as a financial centre.
Swiss President Ignazio Cassis and other cabinet members gave a press conference on Monday, explaining the sanctions u-turn.
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